How can dance efficiency be sustainable?

Phrases by Hannah Draper.

The black and pink riso-printed posters for Burnt Out are placing – Penny Chivas’ hand clasped over her mouth with the opposite arm stretched overhead – a name for assist, a sign of hazard, and a gesture of safety from inhaling noxious air. Created in collaboration with photographer Brian Hartley, the hand strategy of riso-printing created a distinct end in every print.

This tailor-made method bleeds by means of into the broader plan for the 2023 sustainable Scottish tour and ethos of Burnt Out. Created in 2021, Burnt Out is a solo dance theatre piece made and carried out by Penny Chivas, instigated after the devastating Australian wildfires in 2019-2020. Three years on, Penny is touring the present in Scotland after a profitable Fringe run final August. Earlier than this, the work will be performed at Dance Metropolis in Newcastle after the organisation’s continued help of the work by means of residences and rehearsal house and a work-in-progress sharing.

The tour has been organised with Katy Dye as Sustainability Advisor and with Sheena Miller from the Rural Touring Company. Operating since 2017, the organisation helps corporations in Scotland tour work to rural areas in Scotland. The organisation shaped to fill a necessity to assist artists convey work to rural areas and convey prime quality touring work to underserved areas.

Burnt Out would be the first manufacturing to tour on public transport solely, bringing with it a bunch of latest logistical issues for the workforce. Penny will journey by prepare and ferry throughout rural Scotland, together with the Orkney islands, supported by the Artistic Scotland Touring Funding for Theatre and Dance. I spoke to Penny and the manufacturing workforce about organising Burnt Out’s sustainable Scottish tour later this 12 months.

House and Place

Sheena spoke with me concerning the widespread false impression of needing totally different performances for various areas, and the concept of rural versus city audiences. She says that “something you possibly can carry out in a central belt you possibly can carry out in a rural space” whereas emphasising the robust reference to reside efficiency in rural Scotland given the lengthy historical past of reside music traditions. What’s totally different, Sheena tells me, is the way you join with rural audiences in comparison with within the metropolis, and the extra issues.

Whereas the touring workforce will likely be travelling on public transport, audiences will even be inspired to journey on this method. In rural areas this will likely be harder with elements just like the lengthy, darkish nights in Scotland in November, that means some performances will likely be within the afternoon as an alternative of the night, whereas buffer time has been added in round ferry journeys to permit for the not unlikely likelihood of poor climate situations.

We’ve labored in a method that challenges the affect of consumerism…

Inside this planning, Sustainability Advisor Katy tells me that, “greener methods of working can exclude individuals of various skills with out considering of the wants of all of the people collaborating. In order a workforce we’ve got tried to consider tips on how to work sustainably in an inclusive method.” Working with the Theatre Inexperienced E-book, Julie’s Bicycle, and contemplating The Equity for a Green New Deal manifesto has helped the workforce craft a holistic method to the tour, whereas working with venues to assist them meet these sustainability objectives.

Whereas relationship to put has been vital in contemplating tour places, how individuals relate to their environments can be vastly related for a way Burnt Out’s material of Australian coal has turn into a direct mirror to a narrative and dialogue about Scottish oil. After final summer time’s report temperatures in areas throughout the UK, and the growing have to reckon with our nations’ fossil gas histories and persevering with industries, it appears that evidently Burnt Out’s message is changing into extra, not much less, related over time.


Sustainability calls for the necessity for time – one thing which feels counter-intuitive within the race towards the quickening adjustments in our local weather. Time for making selections that inform longer-working processes. Making considering sustainably transcend a ‘tick the field’ train. 

Katy highlights: “it has been fascinating to consider sustainability as one other artistic alternative. How can the ethos of working sustainably improve the content material/aesthetic and viewers expertise of the efficiency? On this method working sustainably doesn’t really feel like a limitation, however opens up a brand new and refreshing method of working which challenges the affect of our disposable/throw away tradition of consumerism and extra.”

Whereas Burnt Out was initially made as a black field efficiency, it can now be carried out in a spread of venues together with village halls, solely utilizing the technical gear already in these venues. Though this may be argued as a limitation, it really challenges concepts of how theatre can and must be introduced and seen.

Penny describes the necessity for individuals to have an opportunity to make use of and utilise the time we’ve got now to think about alternative ways of residing and tips on how to sort out this disaster in our communities earlier than we’re in a state of affairs of getting to reply, reasonably than replicate.


‘The place is the typical individual’s emotional feeling across the local weather disaster?’

This query is a guiding thought for Penny by means of this tour. Pre-show workshops and post-show discussions have been designed to interact with native individuals’s tales and the way communities are experiencing the local weather disaster, akin to visible artists and native nature stroll leaders. The workshops will give attention to inclusive motion practices, breathwork and methods of coping with local weather anxiousness. The tour mannequin prioritises an engaged and embodied interplay with audiences, enabling an change of concepts and dealing strategies to discover how persons are working and exploring these points, each by means of direct motion and methods of experiencing pleasure and pleasure in nature.

Sustainability is a large buzz phrase proper now, with many claims to it falling flat upon inspection. Nevertheless, the Burnt Out workforce is dedicated to interrogating what sustainability means when it comes to broader conversations round how the work is skilled. By permitting audiences the house and time to expertise and discover feelings of upset and anger across the local weather disaster earlier than, after, and in the course of the present there’s an effort to extend and guarantee a mutual significant engagement between the efficiency workforce and communities, working in the direction of what Katy recognized as “one unified voice for our actions to be efficient.”

Katy hopes that these practices turn into normalised: “I’d prefer to see much less expectations placed on people to make inexperienced selections which can financially punish them/put quite a lot of effort on them. We’d like legal guidelines to be made that make it an incentive for us as makers/residents to apply our work sustainably and reside extra sustainable lives.

Picture by Lorna Sim.

This tour of Burnt Out might and must be a mannequin for different small touring corporations, becoming a member of a rising variety of artists in Scotland akin to Hazel Darwin Clements’ Maya and the Whale (toured on two bikes with panniers) which can be committing to new methods of delivering theatre and proving there’s a totally different method of doing issues which must occur now and for the long run.

Burnt Out is being carried out at Dance Metropolis, Newcastle on 16 June 2023. E-book here. Dates for the Scottish tour tbc.